WASHINGTON – A high-level U.S. Army (search) investigation of prisoner interrogation techniques in Iraq has found no evidence that abuse by U.S. military police or intelligence officers is widespread, officials said Sunday.
The review continues, however, and the Army has not determined whether all six soldiers charged with abusing Iraqi prisoners will face a military trial.
The investigation, led by officials in the office of the Army's deputy chief of staff for intelligence, is looking broadly at interrogation methods in Iraq. It is not a criminal investigation of the cases that occurred last fall involving the Army Reserve's 372nd Military Police Company (search), officials said.
Among the most pressing questions is the extent of prisoner abuse and whether it is condoned or encouraged by U.S. military or civilian intelligence officials who have overseen the interrogations.
Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the Army Reserve commander who oversaw the prison system until recently, said in weekend interviews with the New York Times and Washington Post that she knew nothing of the alleged abuse until it was reported. She suggested it may have been encouraged by military intelligence officers, who kept tight control of the cellblock where the abuse occurred.
"I think there are bad people masquerading as soldiers doing bad things to detainees," she said in an interview Sunday evening on ABC News. She said when she first saw the photos of abuse, "I really had to take a couple of seconds because I thought that I might really get sick from it."
Attempts to reach Karpinski, who has returned from Iraq, were unsuccessful Sunday.
Amnesty International, the London-based human rights group, said it has uncovered a "pattern of torture" of Iraqi prisoners by coalition troops. The group called for an independent investigation into the claims of abuse and said it received "scores" of reports of ill treatment of detainees.
Dan Senor, spokesman for the U.S. occupation authority in Baghdad, said the reported abuse is being aggressively investigated by the military.
"Careers will be ended and criminal charges are going to be leveled," he told CNN's "Late Edition."
Gen. Richard Myers (search), chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he was confident that the vast majority of American soldiers involved in the Iraqi prison system are acting properly. He said it was clear from the high-level Army investigation under way that abuse is not widespread.
"I would say that categorically," Myers told ABC's "This Week."
"There is no, no evidence of systematic abuse in this system at all," including the U.S. military prison system at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where about 600 suspected terrorists are detained, he said.
"We review all the interrogation methods. Torture is not one of the methods that we're allowed to use and that we use. I mean, it's just not permitted by international law, and we don't use it," Myers said.
The Joint Chiefs chairman said that as soon as the initial allegations came to light, an investigation team was sent to Iraq at the request of Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. The central focus has been the Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad, but Myers said the investigation is looking at prisons throughout Iraq to determine the extent of abusive or illegal handling of prisoners.
"The report back is that it is not systematic, but that work is still ongoing," he said.
Of the six soldiers in the 372nd who were charged in March with physical and sexual abuse of 20 prisoners at Abu Ghraib, one has been referred to court-martial. The rest are in various stages of a military proceeding, known as an Article 32 hearing, that will determine whether they face trial.
Two of the five have completed their hearings but no decisions have been made final, one is in the midst of a hearing and the hearings for the two others have been delayed at the request of their defense lawyers, a senior defense official said Sunday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Senior American officials have taken pains to denounce those responsible for abusing Iraqi prisoners and to stress that they are not representative of the military. Yet widespread publication of graphic photographs of Iraqis being sexually humiliated and abused at Abu Ghraib has caused outrage in the Islamic world and threatens to undermine the U.S. anti-terror campaign.
In Afghanistan, a government official said Sunday that the scandal in Iraq could have serious consequences for the U.S. military and reconstruction effort in his country. "People could start questioning the motivation behind" the U.S. campaign, Foreign Ministry official Omar Samad said.
Separate from the allegations of prisoner abuse captured in photographs published in newspapers and shown on TV broadcasts around the world in recent days, a CIA spokesman said Sunday the agency's inspector general has been looking for several months into "a couple allegations of abuse."
One of the CIA cases involves a prisoner who died last year after being interrogated at the Abu Ghraib prison, said the spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity.